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Ron Wyden

The regulatory countdown grows more tense

As the election closes in, Democrats are working to cement the Biden administration’s policy priorities. If they don’t move quickly, they could deliver the GOP a tool to unravel key efforts.

All kinds of rulemakings like environmental measures, Inflation Reduction Act implementation and new banking regulations could become targets. Republicans have proven they’ll flex the Congressional Review Act, which would give a new administration a path to undo recent rules.

“Time, time, time is how I describe this to every head of every agency I speak with,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told us, describing her message on getting the 2022 IRA fully implemented. “We need to have this done and done quickly. If we didn’t learn that lesson back in 2016, then shame on us.”

Warren was referencing the boom of CRA action when the White House and Congress flipped into Republican hands in 2017. The GOP took out 16 Obama-era rules during the 115th Congress, making up the bulk of successful uses of the CRA, according to CRS.

The CRA allows Congress to undo an administration’s rule but only within a time-limited window of 60 legislative — not calendar — days after a regulation gets published in the Federal Register.

To avoid the next Congress having a say, there’s no hard date to follow right now. It’s not clear how many more legislative days there will be this year. But the estimated deadline could fall sometime in mid-May or later this summer depending on the congressional calendar.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said speed is an obvious goal in getting IRA rules in place, but that the Biden administration also needs to move carefully to get them right.

The panel’s top Republican, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, told us that the GOP should absolutely consider CRA options next year if the timing pans out.

It’s worth noting: The CRA isn’t the only factor at play. For the IRA, for example, Democrats want their signature law in full force to meet climate goals and to be on display ahead of the election.

Also, getting rules in place won’t stop Republicans from trying to strike the IRA’s new taxes altogether in the 2025 tax debate — if they win big in November.

— Laura Weiss

Presented by The Coalition to Project American Jobs

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